Plenty of Job Openings for People with the Right Skills

  • March 31, 2014

BCBC is pleased to partner with CKNW in their Putting BC to Work programme. Over the coming weeks, we will be highlighting issues and opportunities in British Columbia's labour market both on air and here on our blog. On April 24th, we will be holding a wrap up event featuring Canadian Economist, Don Drummond. Tickets and details here.

By Ken Peacock

For anyone planning a career path or deciding what to take or study at school, the provincial government’s WorkBC website (http://www.workbc.ca/) is a very useful resource. It contains information for job seekers and employers along with lots of statistics on the labour market outlook for different regions and occupations.

Under the job seekers tab on the website, there are profiles for more than 500 different career occupations. These profiles include information on job duties and the work environment, career paths, expected salaries, a breakdown by gender of those currently working in the field, and projected demand (and future job vacancies) for the various occupations. Visitors to the site who know what they are looking for can search for a particular occupation. Those with a less formulated trajectory have the option to browse through a list of occupations. For people who are even further along in their career paths and are actually looking for work there are nearly 12,000 current job postings on the site.

The second tab on the WorkBC site is geared towards helping employers. Any company looking to hire a new worker is able to post a job opening on the WorkBC website. There is also information for employers relating to the hiring process, how to hire apprentices, and the province’s Training Tax Credit Program. There is also information about hiring immigrants and other “underrepresented groups” in the labour market. And if domestic workers are not available, there are resources to help employers navigate the process for hiring foreign workers.

The third tab on the site is geared more towards individuals pondering or planning their careers. In addition to statistics on current labour market conditions, this section examines the medium-term outlook for the demand for and supply of workers in the province. It includes a macro-level overview, which according to the government’s labour market modelling points to approximately one million job openings in the province between 2010 and 2020. The projections point to tighter labour market conditions as the decade progresses because growth in the demand for workers will eventually outstrip supply.

A key feature of the projection is that nearly two-thirds of future job openings will result from workers retiring or leaving the workforce for other reasons – so-called replacement demand. The other one-third of openings stems from the expansion or growth of different industries. While the number of job opportunities varies because of differing demographics, size and growth rates across industries, there will be job opportunities across all occupations because of the impact of retirement among existing employees. This means that job vacancies will arise even in industries that aren’t growing.

With respect to education and training, the government’s analysis indicates that 78% of future job openings will require some form of post-secondary education or training (35% will require a university degree and 43% college or technical training). Currently in BC a little over two-thirds of the workforce has some post secondary training.

For those looking for more granular information, the projections include details about the outlook for different industries and occupations as well as the outlook across different regions.

Anyone looking to these projections, especially at the regional and industry level, should recognize that developing medium-term labour market forecasts is complex and fraught with uncertainty. There are a large number of variables that go into these kinds of projections, including assumptions about future economic growth and capital investment, about population growth, about participation rates by age and sex, and about changes in retirement ages across different segments of the economy and the workforce. Unexpected events can disrupt any medium or long-term labour market projection – e.g., a recession, sustained shifts in global commodity markets, or the development of new industries like the proposed LNG sector in British Columbia.

Having said that, the labour market projections available on the government’s web site are comprehensive and provide a useful guide to the outlook for a large number of occupations and industries in the province. Job seekers, career counselors, parents and people making career plans are encouraged to make use of this accessible resource.